Early Pilot Success for New Education Research Tool Terracotta

By Heather Maness
📅 May 15, 2023
🕑 Read time: 3 minute(s)
Early Pilot Success for New Education Research Tool Terracotta

Are you interested in taking your course-based research to the next level but tired of dealing with logistical barriers? Well, say hello to Terracotta—the revolutionary open-source app for Canvas eLearning that makes randomized controlled experimental trials easy-peasy! Faculty involved in the Fall 2022 testing of this new tool have been singing its praises and we are thrilled that Terracotta emerged as the runner-up finalist in the XPRIZE Digital Learning Challenge competition. So, come chat with us to join the pilot and try it for yourself!

Why this is a game-changer

Terracotta simplifies the process of creating rigorous, ethical educational research studies by

  • collecting informed consents from students,
  • randomly assigning different versions of content or an assignment to the students that opt-in, and
  • exporting de-identified study data, such as treatment conditions and grades for researcher analysis.

As an external tool designed to integrate seamlessly with the Canvas learning management system, it has the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of educational research. Thus, providing greater evidence-based insight into effective teaching practices and student learning outcomes improvement.

The path from a big idea to XPRIZE Finalist

Fellow Unizin Consortium member Indiana University first answered the call of the XPRIZE Digital Learning Challenge funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) by submitting the idea for Terracotta. After becoming one of the top 10 teams to move forward to the next phase, they invited UF to help them pilot this new tool and demonstrate its broad applicability. Several faculty members across the institution (Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Veterinary Medicine) used the tool in their Fall 2022 courses and submitted results via the anonymized data sharing plan. On May 9th, XPRIZE announced Terracotta as a runner-up finalist to receive $125,000!

How to learn more, build your research network, and try it for yourself!

In April, the Learning Analytics and Assessment unit of CITT collaborated with faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine to share their experiences using Terracotta at the inaugural Research in Teaching and Learning (RiTL) Symposium. The enthusiastic response from the audience was overwhelming! There was a strong interest in more discussions on educational research resources and support. We are going to continue to support this new tool pilot program for another year and work toward long-term integration. UFIT staff and faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine have collaboratively applied for additional grant funding from IES to help support expansion efforts across the institution.

We also have a learning community for all instructors and educational researchers at UF interested in using educational technology like Terracotta—click to join the Educational Technology Community of Practice in Microsoft Teams and access the Terracotta Pilot channel. Here you can keep track of the latest updates and future meetings that will be planned. We also welcome individual consultations to learn more or get started with your own project, please complete the Request Form for a CITT Consultation (Learning Analytics and Data).



TagsAnalytics, Education TechnologyResearch